Dogs are natural scavengers
 They have the stomach for it
I remember Beth swallowed some
 decaying squirrel whole
Its tail hanging out of her mouth
 for the longest time
Nothing ever became of it

I always wondered where the deer went
 when they died
The forest was always
 a pantheistic land of wonder
As the snow tickled our noses
 Lexie was nowhere to be found
I laughed it off and yelled for her
 Then yelled and yelled
 Then ran and abruptly stopped
Lexie tenderly edging toward the deer carcass
 Shy even
Then the bump on the bridge of her nose appeared

A couple months later,
 in an unusual spring heat
Lexie leaves the trail
 With a straightforward earnestness
We walk an unfamiliar side–path
Cross an undiscovered stream
Another carcass prone to the sun
A vulture crouched in an adjacent tree
Impatient for our departure

The bump on her head reappeared at the top
 Lexie was given two months to live
And, at that other river,
 Her jaw too weak to grip
 the large branches so much a part of her
This third carcass
 Peaceful, laying amid the thorns
One does not begrudge one condemned to death
 to take their fill of death
Not one lick of impropriety

We filled our days with walks
We denied ourselves none of our walks
 We partook